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Madras High Court frames guidelines for recognition of same-sex relationships
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Madras High Court frames guidelines for recognition of same-sex relationships

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Chennai: In a writ petition that brought the focus again on the need of de-stigmatisation and acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people by society, the Madras High Court on Monday issued guidelines to be followed by the Central and state government.

The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) by two young lesbian women who fled from Madurai and were living at Chennai with the support of an organisation. The petitioners moved the court for a direction to police to not cause harassment.

Also, they sought protection from threat or danger to them from their respective parents.

A single bench of Justice Anand Venkatesh noted that a societal change is needed in the approach towards LGBTQIA+ relationships. The hostilities they face are due to the fact that their relationship do not enjoy societal sanction.

When it is complemented by a law there would be a remarkable change in the outlook of the society by recognising same-sex relationships, Justice Venkatesh said in the judgement.

The judge also said that he has never personally encountered a person of LBTQIA+ community and never had the opportunity to understand and appreciate their emotions and feelings.

"Till the legislature comes up with an enactment, the LGBTQIA+ community cannot be left in a vulnerable atmosphere where there is no guarantee for their protection and safety. This gap is now sought to be filled in by way of issuing guidelines till law takes over and guarantees safety and protection", the Court said while proceeding to issue certain guidelines.

Any attempt to medically "cure" or change the sexual orientation of LGBTIQA+ people shall be prohibited, said the Court

Changes in curricula of schools and universities to educate students on LGBTQIAs shall be made. The term transgender in addition to Male and Female gender columns in application forms for various purposes shall be included, the court added

Well ahead of passing orders, Justice Anand Venkatesh voluntarily underwent psycho-educational sessions and interactions with LGBTQI+ people to have a better understanding of their emotions and problems.

The judge had also sent the parents of the petitioners who had same sex orientation, for counselling. But it did not yield the desired result, the judge said.

In his verdict, the judge expected the state, central authorities to implement the guidelines in letter and spirit not for complying with a judicial fiat but to ensure that the society evolved and the LGBTQIA+ community is not pushed out of the mainstream of society.

Police, following complaint and on investigation, if they find that the persons -men or women- involved in the plaint were consenting adults belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community, they shall close the complaint after getting their statements and without subjecting them to any harassment.

Complete information including contact details on NGOs with expertise on LGBTQIA issues should be hosted in the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment website and updated periodically.

The Court also observed that legislative changes are needed to eradicate the social discrimination against LGBTQIA+ community and to ensure the protection of their life and dignity. In this regard,the court mentioned how legislative interventions are changing the attitude towards persons with disabilities and mental illness.

The Court also called for similar legislative interventions with respect to LGBTQIA+ community as well.

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TAGS:Madras High Court LGBTQIA Same Sex Relationship 
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